Week 3 NFL Picks

Week 2 record: 7-8-1
Year to date: 15-16-1

It was not really a good week, and it could have been a lot worse. I started off very poorly, but caught back up a little, especially with the totals. Chicago was a huge disappointment, the New England upset was unforeseen, Kansas City and New Orleans continues to play incredibly poor football and Dallas flopped hard. It was a weird week, but that’s the NFL for you.

No talk, let’s just get to the games.

Thursday September 20

New York Giants @ Carolina (pick) 

The Panthers want Cam Newton to keep running, but if the Panthers want to beat the Giants, they’ll need him to have a huge passing day

The Giants are 0-2 against the spread to start the season, as their run game has been non-existent, their offensive line has been porous and their secondary looks dismantled. They needed a big comeback to beat the Bucs, who were beating the G-Men soundly for the first three quarters. I still think the Giants will continue to waver up and down all year. There are a lot of holes on this team, and they’re holes the Panthers can exploit. Cam Newton can neutralize the Giant’s biggest defensive strength, their pass rush, and exploit their secondary, which is their biggest weakness. The Carolina defense did a solid job against Drew Brees and the Saints on Sunday, and I think that will carry over. They also ran for 219 yards, something they won’t be able to do as well against the Giants, but any semblance of a run game should open up the pass game a good bit. The total is at 50.5 right no which is the week’s second highest, and rightfully so. This figures to be a shootout, but I think Carolina comes away with the win at home.

Sunday September 23

Buffalo (-2.5) @ Cleveland

Cleveland made some strides on Sunday against the Bengals. Weeden threw for 300+ yards and had a passer rating of 114.9. Richardson broke out for 109 yards on just 19 carries. The defense had 6 sacks. The secondary without Joe Haden was exposed by Andy Dalton and company. Buffalo also made strides coming off a similarly awful week 1 result. Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t asked to pass the ball nearly as much as usual, throwing it just 19 times compared to 36 rushes. This Browns defense is far more susceptible to the pass than the run, so you’d think that ratio would revert back towards 50/50. I think the Browns can win this game. Unless the Fitzpatrick to Stevie Johnson (because of no Haden) connection is in devastating form, I think the Browns match up well. Whichever team’s QB is asked to do the most will probably lose this game, and I think ultimately, despite how great CJ Spiller has looked, that will be Buffalo. The Browns win for the first time since November of last year.

San Francisco (-8) @ Minnesota

San Francisco has advantages at virtually every position besides running back, and even that’s not too meaningful because SF has been the far superior run team. The game has blowout written all over it, even thought it’s at Minnesota. However, San Francisco was 6-2 on the road last year, but not a single one of those was a win by more than 8 points (beat Washington by exactly 8 points). They didn’t cover this spread once last year. That might not be terribly significant, but I’m going to go with it.

Detroit (-3) @ Tennessee

Tennessee has looked really bad so far this season. They were crushed at home to New England (who just lost to Arizona) and pummeled on the road by San Diego. I think Detroit is the solid play here. They were a solid road team last year, and being in the same division as Green Bay and Chicago, there is plenty of incentive to make sure they come out and win this one.  Tennessee isn’t the worst team in the NFL, but I don’t think this is the week they bounce back.

Cincinnati @ Washington (-3.5)

Neither defense has looked particularly good, but without Carriker and Orakpo, I think Cincinnati can out-defend the Redskins and that judging that defense based on two games is a bit foolish. It’s better than it has shown. The Redskins defensive line was exposed last week, and their linebackers got killed in zone coverage. The Cincy WRs should have an easy time getting short yardage catches if they look to expose that. I think they have a few more weapons on offense. It’s hard to imagine the Skins blowing their home opener, but still, I can’t take them as home favorites right now.

Kansas City @ New Orleans (-9)
Over/Under 52.5

All four of these team’s games have gone over the total. This is the week’s highest line at 52.5, but I think it will be toppled. I’m not sure how I feel about the spread, but if I had to pick I’d take New Orleans. Both defeses have looked putrid, and it doesn’t seem to be terribly fluky. These offenses, in the dome, on the turf and going against weak defenses should both excel. Should be solid shootout.

New York Jets (-3) @ Miami
Over/Under 40 

Reggie Bush has been great this season, but can he keep it up against Rex Ryan’s defense and for the remainder of the year?

I think the spread is pretty fair, but if I had to pick I’d take the home team and their points. But I like the line a bit more. Sure, the in the last three match ups between these teams they haven’t combined for more than 40 points, but I think that trend ends. Miami has given up a ton of pass yards this season while stopping the run (against Foster and McFadden no less), whereas the Jets have just been average in both regards. I think both offenses, regardless of how ineffective they can be, will be able to find something against these defenses. I actually think Sanchez has a big passing day and the points will start lighting up the scoreboard more than expected.

Jacksonville @ Indianapolis (-3) 

The Jags have no pass rush, a secondary and LB corps that struggles to cover anyone, no depth at RB and a banged up offensive line. So long as Indy contains MJD as much as reasonably possible, this game favors them. The Jags will be able to stop the run to an extent, but I think Luck has a bit of an easier task ahead of him this week that past weeks, continues to improve, and I think he has a big day.

Tampa Bay @ Dallas (-8)

This Dallas team is so confusing. I think this team is actually a good bit mentally stronger than last year’s team, despite what happened last week, and because of that they bounce back in their home opener with an easy and commanding win.

St. Louis @ Chicago (-9)

The Rams are 2-0 against the spread, playing Detroit very close on the road and beating the favored Redskins at home. Things fell apart pretty rapidly against Green Bay for Jay Cutler and his offensive line, but I don’t think they’ll have the same problem against the Ram’s defense that really struggles to get after the quarterback. 9 points seems like a lot here, and I’m a little uncomfortable taking the Beats to cover it, but I think so long as Cutler is being protected, this offense is nearly unstoppable. Cutler has plenty of weapons, he just needs time to get it to them. He’ll have that time against the Rams.

Philadelphia (-4) @ Arizona 

You can look at this two ways. First, you can say that Philly is 0-2 against the spread and are way too turnover prone to take them as road favorites. On the other hand, you can reasonably expect that those turnovers slow down, and deduce that even though they are 2-0, there is a lot of room for improvement. If Philly keeps those turnovers down, they’ll be fine. I think they finally do and cover this spread.

Atlanta @ San Diego (-3) 

Philip Rivers needs to continue to play smart and mistake-free football to give his team a shot at a statement victory.

Both teams are 2-0 and 2-0 against the spread. Each team is averaging 30 or more points a game. It’s hard to guess how good San Diego is when the two teams they have beaten are now 0-4 and don’t look too formidable, but Rivers is playing smart mistake-free football, and the defense has been suffocating. It’s reasonable to assume that Atlanta struggles to establish the rush, even though Turner won’t be suspended (the biggest threat to his playing time is on-the-field matters at this point). San Diego’s run game isn’t much better, but their run defense is much better. I can’t see Atlanta getting anything on the ground, and that will stagnate the offense at times. This will be a telling game. Atlanta has a quality win, but it was at home and Peyton helped them out a lot. This game will be very telling, and I think San Diego takes it at home.

Pittsburgh (-4) @ Oakland

If the Steelers can make their tackles and stuff McFadden, this shouldn’t be too difficult for them. If they don’t, then they easily could be upset on the road. McFadden really hasn’t gotten it going this season, and I’m not sure the Steeler defense is going to be the team that he does get it going against. I can’t trust Carson Palmer, nor can I trust the Raiders’ discipline. Could be a trap game for the Steelers, having to travel cross-country and with the bye week coming up, but I think they’ll be focused and eager to get to 2-1.

Houston @ Denver (pick)

Sign me up for the Texans bandwagon.

New England @ Baltimore (-2.5)

The Pats can’t go 1-2, they just can’t. Right? I don’t know…

Monday September 24

Green Bay (-3.5) @ Seattle

Seattle is a good team, but I don’t think they will be able to replicate their success against Dallas, especially if the formula again is to run the ball twice for every one pass. They bludgeoned Dallas on the ground, dominating time of possession. Green Bay will score more points than Dallas, and Seattle will be forced to be a bit more pass-oritented. I like Russell Wilson and all, but what happened on Sunday won’t happen against a team like Green Bay. I think Seattle can keep this close, but in the end, Green Bay has too much firepower and Russell Wilson will be forced to make big plays. I’m not sure he’s ready to do that.

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